Sunday, 23 June 2013

Roger de Potigny: Meeting with Abbé de l'Aumone at Harrow, following Council of Westminster, 1163

Extract from

[31.] Per idem tempus Alexander papa in Francia constitutus misit quemdam Cisterciensis ordinis abbatem nomine Philippum de Eleemosyna virum magni nominis et auctoritatis qui inter regem et archiepiscopum pacem, si possibile esset, reformaret. Venit igitur abbas ille in Angliam et sociatis sibi episcopo Herefordense nomine E-oberto de Milidino, et Joanne Windochinense comite, venit ad archiepiscopum apud Herges, porrexitque ei idem Philippus literas apostolicas, et quorundam cardinalium scripta, in quibus continebantur verba exhortatoria, quatenus se modestum et flexibilem archiepiscopus regis voluntati exhiberet. Commemorabatur etiam in literis illis, quod status ecclesiae propter schisma turbidus esset et nubilus; cavendumque summo opere ne tempestas, quae caput ecclesiae occupaverat, etiam per membra diffunderetur et ita nulla esset requies. Esse interim necessariam dispensationem, nec expedire ad praesens ut ecclesiastici rectores debitam severitatem exercerent: sed multa dissimulanda, nonnulla etiam pro tempore essent toleranda. Multa in hunc modum continebantur in literis illis quibus episcopus et abbas una cum comite socio viva voce addiderunt, quod rex eos in verbo veritatis certificasset se nunquam ab archiepiscopo quicquam requisiturum quod ordini ejus vel voluntati contrarium foret. Regem vero hac intentione tam pertinaciter egisse, eo quod turpe ei videretur ab archiepiscopo vinci, nec posse ab eo extorquere, ut saltem verbotenus eum honorare dignaretur. Rogabant igitur et suadebant memorati viri modisque omnibus instabant, quatenus una cum eis archiepiscopus ad regem veniret, et simplici tantum verbo ejus voluntati faveret, omisso verbo illo, scilicet salvo ordine nostro: quo facto plenam apud regem pacem et gratiam tam ipse quam universa ecclesia Anglicana consequeretur: et mentio quae de consuetudinibus fuerat regni introducta, penitus in perpetuum aboleretur. Erat autem idem abbas de Eleemosyna tantae opinionis et famae, cui facile fides haberetur: unde archiepiscopus, tam Domini papae et cardinalium consiliis quam ipsius abbatis et eorum qui cum illo venerant verbis inductus et promissionibus credulus: una cum eis ad regem profectus est. 

[32.] Inventum autem regem apud Wodestoche venerabilis pontifex cum multa mansuetudine allocutus est: proponens ei in exemplum sanctos regni illius reges: quos non solum fides et pietas Deo fecit acceptos verum etiam plures ex eis martyrii corona reddidit gloriosos: exhortans et suppliciter rogans, ut et ipse eorum exemplis et vestigiis inhaereret, tyrannorumque deletis et in perpetuum damnatis abusionibus sanctorum regum meritis et collegio sociari satageret. Et ne quid, ait archiepiscopus, offendiculum bonae voluntati tuse, si eam tibi Dominus inspirare dignatus fuit, per me opponi videatur: scias quod consuetudines regni bona fide servabo, tibique de csetero, ut decet et justum est, per omnia in bono obtemperans ero. Tunc rex ad eum, Omnibus, inquit, notum est quam pertinaciter te in hoc verbo exhibueris, et quantum honorem meum in tua contradictione laeseris: quapropter, si ut decet me honorare decrevisti, coram omnibus emeudari et recognosci necesse est, quod honori meo in hac parte detractum ab omnibus scitur. Mitte igitur et convoca episcopos et abbates et caeteros omnes qui in ecclesiasticis honoribus sunt eminentiores: et ego ex parte mea convocabo universos majores regni, quatenus in praesentia et audientia omnium ad honorem meum sermo iste recognoscatur.


At about the same time in France that Pope Alexander had set up [in exile] in France, he sent an abbot of the Cistercian order,  a certain man by the name of Philippe d'Aumone, of a great name and authority, who was to broker peace between the king and the archbishop, if it were possible. The abbot came to England, and together with the bishop of Hereford, called Robert de Meldun, and John, Comte de Vendome, they came to the archbishop at Harrow. Philippe brought with him letters from the pope and from some of the cardinals, in which were contained words of exhortation for the archbishop, that he should be modest and flexible to the will of the king. It was mentioned in those letters, that the state of the church, because of the schism, was troubled and unsettled, and he was to be on guard and do his utmost to avoid the storm, which had taken over the head of the Church, and which was even diffusing to its limbs, because there would be no respite.Therefore, in the meantime, it might be a necessary dispensation that the managers of ecclesiastical affairs for the present should not exercise due severity, but in many matters to pretend ignorance of them, and even for some things, for the time being, to tolerate them. Many things of this kind were contained in these letters, to which the bishop and the abbot, and together with the earl, verbally added, in the manner of one of those matters which friends share, that the king had given his word of truth to them, that he would attest that he would never require anything contrary to the archbishop's desire or which would be against his order. The king, in truth, had acted so determinedly in his intention in this matter, because it would seem shameful to him if he were seen to be defeated by the archbishop, and not being able to extort from him that he would at least agree to honour him verbally. So therefore the aforementioned men begged and tried to persuade him, and by all manner of means insisted that the archbishop, in as much, should come along with them to the king, and give support only to his will in plain words, by omitting these words, namely "salvo ordine nostro" [saving our order]. When this is done, this will result in full of peace and favour with the king, for both him and all the English church, and all mention of the customs of the kingdom that had been introduced, completely wiped out forever. Now it was by the same abbé d'Aumone, who had so great a reputation, in whom he easily had so much trust whence the archbishop, as well as by the advices of the lord pope and cardinals, and also the abbot and those who had come with him, was induced by words and credulous promises; and so he made his way to the king.

It was with great gentleness that the venerable archbishop therefore addressed the king whom he found at Woodstock, proposing to him as example the saintly kings of his kingdom; that it was not only how faith and piety can make us acceptable to God, but also how many of them who had rendered their crown to the glory of martyrdom, humbly exhorting and beseeching that he should adhere to both their example and memory. And how tyrants are destroyed and forever damned when they try to join the fellowship of the saintly kings of merit. And they should not be, said the archbishop to him, an obstacle in thy good will, if the Lord will inspire it in you, as it was deigned, that I may be seen to be opposed to; you know that I  will myself keep in good faith the customs of the kingdom and prove to you comprehend more of, so that it is fitting and just, in all things I will be in the good and conformed to. Then the king said to him, it is well known to all that you are obstinate as you have shown by these words, and so far as my honour is concerned, you have injured me in your gainsaying. For this reason, if you have decided to honour me, as is fitting, it is necessary to review and make amends before all, in my honour in this the withdrawal of all known. Send for therefore, and convoke all the bishops and abbots, and all those who are in an ecclesiastical honour above the others, and I will call together all the nobles of the kingdom on my part, so far as in the presence and hearing of all that this word was my honour to be acknowledged for.

See Also

Michael Staunton (7 December 2001). The Lives of Thomas Becket. Manchester University Press. pp. 86–. ISBN 978-0-7190-5455-6.


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